Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pilot Review - "Up All Night"

Spoilers for the "Up All Night" pilot after the jump:

First off, "Up All Night" is far from the best comedy pilot of the season (that will probably wind up being "New Girl"). But in truth, I think it's probably the comedy most likely to become something truly special. There are some issues with this first episode, but they don't overshadow the good stuff. And with a little work, this could easily become NBC's next great comedy. It's smart, it's funny, and it's touching.

The good stuff is the material involving Will Arnett's Chris, Christina Applegate's Regan, and their daughter Amy. It's consistently funny, and (equally important) feels true to life. Chris goes to the supermarket with Amy and notices an old woman staring at her: sending him into a bit of a panic. Later he screams out in frustration that "we're trying to help you" as the baby resists the attempts to change her diaper. There are numerous laughs to be had here, and some sweet moments involving Arnett and Applegate. They have a solid if unremarkable chemistry: projecting the feeling of two people who love each other no matter what life throws in their way. In a way, it's the comedy equivalent of Coach and Tami from "FNL".

The show is also smart enough to realize that the baby-related humor isn't going to be enough to sustain a series by itself. So quite a bit of time is also spent with Regan at her job, which is managing a talk show hosted by Ava (Maya Rudolph). It's possible that both Ava and the workplace comedy will grow into something better, but for now it just doesn't work consistently despite some funny individual moments. Rudolph in particular just isn't all that funny, which makes it odd that the pilot got retooled in order to give her a larger role.

In summary: I quite liked "Up All Night". With a little work, it could become something I love. Applegate and Arnett are very funny, and it's refreshing to see Arnett play a more naturalistic character for a change. They make this a show about a marriage as well as a show about raising a child, and in both cases it's extremely sharp and funny. I expect (and hope for) steady improvement from here on out. Hopefully the show will deliver.

Will I Keep Watching?: For sure. And since I don't have any other review commitments on that day, I may be reviewing it on a weekly basis. Of course, it could also fall apart as early as the next episode. But I really don't see that happening.   

Grade: B

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